I hope everybody is doing well this fine October. The past couple of years I’ve done Halloween events, most notably last year with my October Review Fest where I did a whole month of themed content. Unfortunately this year I totally spaced the fact that October comes after September (I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff, bare with me guys) so I was not at all prepared to do an awesome event at that scale again this year. Don’t distress though, that’s where Freaky Fridays come in! Every Friday this month I’ll have a themed article for the Halloween season. Today, 10 anime to get you into the Halloween spirit!
This list is not in any particular order and contains only shows I’ve previously mentioned or reviewed in the past. Links to original articles are in red like this. The exception to this is the honorable mentions. One item on this list isn’t technically anime by typical definitions but it gets included because I’m the one making the list, so you’ll just have to deal with it.
I have never gotten around to talking about Tokyo Ghoul but I would be amiss to not include at least the first season of the anime on this list. The early parts are especially fantastic at setting the proper seasonal mood as Kaneki Ken begins his transformation into a half-human, half-ghoul hybrid. Aside from me not having reviewed this yet, it only makes the HM list because the later seasons are kind of a mess. While I enjoyed season 2 still, it feels pretty different, and don’t even get me started on season 3. Still, the first season does enough right that you should consider checking it out if you haven’t already.
The next honorable mention goes to Shiki which is another title I really need to get around to talking about in a more official capacity. Out of all the titles I’m going to recommend on this list, this should be one you give priority to, especially if you’ve never seen it. While it does have a bit of a slow start and you’ll likely be able to figure things out a bit faster than the characters, Shiki offers a lot in the way of horrifying content. There’s a lot more that could be said on this one but I fear I’d spoil the fun and too much more, I might as well right a full review at that point.
Lastly, what kind of list would this be if I didn’t make the obligatory Ghost Stories mention. Just make sure you don’t make the mistake of watching this one subbed, this is a dub watch for good reason. If you don’t somehow know about this infamous title, then you owe it to yourself to check it out and have a good laugh. I will say that it can be offensive, crude, etc… so if you are totally against that then maybe give this one a pass but even I enjoyed it and I’m not typically into that sort of thing.
10. Over The Garden Wall
I first talked about Over The Garden Wall way back when my blog was starting out in 2015. While my writing has improved, especially for shorter reviews like that one, my recommendation of this series still stands. This is the one show that isn’t really an anime but I really wanted to include this one. If you have kids, particularly on the older side, then this is one you should especially check out because it is perfect for a family setting.
Over The Garden Wall hits an interesting middle-ground of being a Halloween/Thanksgiving series with only 10 episodes, but it doesn’t waste any time building up an interesting world. While this is a primarily goofy series, there are some moments of genuine horror. In the end you’ll be left with some important life lessons learned and a good time spent on something quality you may have missed since it aired back in 2014.
9. School-Live! (Gakkougurashi!)
My 2016 article on this series is intentionally vague. You might look at it and think, “Why the heck is this on a Halloween list???” if you haven’t had this spoiled for you already that is. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have dodged any spoilers if you haven’t seen this one. Just take my word for it and go into it with an open mind. By the end of the first episode, you’ll likely be quite surprised.
School-Live! is a must for folks who enjoy a narrative that slowly unravels its mysteries while still providing enough hints for you to figure things out on your own. The journey is tense and nails the atmosphere necessary to get you into the Halloween mood, even if that won’t be apparent right away.
This one is a more recent watch, but Re-Kan! makes the list because spooky shows can be great, but sometimes you just want a funny show to get you into the spirit (see what I did there?). In my Mini Review of Re-Kan!, I poke fun at its terrible background art but the story can be genuinely touching and funny. If you are looking for a pleasant 13 episode series and don’t want to be scared into Halloween, then this one is for you!
7. Pet Shop of Horrors
This one is an older title, but a good one. A short OVA series centered around a mysterious pet shop that is something akin to a Twilight Zone episode. Pet Shop of Horrors is one of those series that could definitely have been 12, or even 24 episodes in length but you only get 4 episodes. Still, the episodes you do get are pretty fantastic.
Unfortunately this one is not available for streaming online (legally) that I know of so you do have to purchase it. If you have a spare $15 dollars lying around then I would highly recommend picking up Pet Shop of Horrors as it would be a welcome addition to any collection, especially for the Halloween season.
6. Le Portrait de Petite Cossette
Here’s another short OVA series. This one is more out there and niche but one I absolutely fell in love with when I took a look at it for last year’s October Review Fest. Cossette will feel familiar to long-time Shaft fans since the 3 episode OVA is Shinbou’s creation. Really, the entire staff for this one is of legendary status so you should expect some quality out of this.
I don’t think I could exactly summarize this one in a short little blurb so I do hope you’ll check out the full article. If I had to try, I would liken this to The Picture of Dorian Gray meets LSD. Like the previous entry, this is one you’ll have to drop some cash on but it is well worth the experience.
5. King’s Game
I would be a mad man not to include, “so-bad-it’s-good” title King’s Game on this list. I have a lot of fun writing up my review of this back in 2017 when it finished airing with my article, “King’s Game & The 7 Stages of Grief.” While I certainly dish on this anime, it actually managed to be pretty good in the end, believe it or not. Genuinely recommend it, even if you just watch it to laugh at it.
It all starts when Nobuaki begins attending a new high school. His class gets roped into the titular King’s Game where they have to perform fairly innocent stuff like confess your love for blah, or kiss blah. Soon, however, things get more and more desperate as the commands become increasingly unreasonable. The punishment for failure is death.
I know a lot of folks thought Magical Girl Site was edgy, but this is way more edgy, way more of the time. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, especially if you watch this dubbed, which I have recently started doing with a group of close vic-I mean friends. Truly though, King’s Game did end up being a lot better than it had any right to be and will probably make for a fun watch if you need something for a group.
4. Shigofumi: Letters From The Departed
The premise for this one: What if a dead person could send one final letter to the living? Shigofumi isn’t exactly a spooky show but it does have some disturbing content. Couple that with the theme of the dead sending letters and I can’t think of something more inline with the season, at least, thematically.
I chose to highlight this one on the list because it is also a lesser known title. Shigofumi has a lot of interesting ideas both conceptually and thematically that should keep viewers engaged. There are some goofy moments and not all of this one is solid, but for what this 12 episode series is, it is still worth checking out if you missed it.
This entry is one I debated switching with The Lost Village but I ultimately went with Another because it nails the atmosphere. Another did so well in this regard that many people find it to be a genuine horror/mystery story. While I think it delivers a more atmospheric mystery than horror narrative, it is sure to get you in the proper mood. Lastly, Another can be a comedy for some folks, much like The Lost Village is but if you look at each show’s background, that should hardly be a surprise.
2. Death Parade
Keeping with the idea of tone, perhaps you want something with a more melancholic tone. Additionally, what could be more horrifying than human nature itself? Death Parade is a show I have mentioned before in a post about tone and boy does it deliver. This may seem like an odd claim since the opening of Death Parade is dubiously cheery and fun, but even that has strong thematic ties to what the show has in-store if you pay close enough attention.
Death Parade has a lot to unpack as it explores a lot of interesting ideas. Most of the episodes are little vignettes centered on recently deceased folks that will receive judgement to either become reincarnated or simply erased. Each story ranges from hopeful to sad, but all of them are very human. The finale is particularly good as far as I’m concerned.
1. When They Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
Are you even surprised? Higurashi is the ultimate anime for this time of year. Spread across two seasons (three if you want a touch more), you are in for one wild ride. Season one acts as a question arc, providing a lot of messed up scenarios with multiple explanations for what might be going on. In turn, season 2 is the answer arc. Everything gets resolution and the mystery slowly gets pieced together. The optional third season provides an emotional conclusion for an important character, but the story is very solid by the end of season 2. This bit is really only for hardcore fans who just need more.
For a long time this wasn’t available legally in a lot of places but it has been made more available now. You can actually watch this so if you haven’t seen it yet, and you choose only one show to watch on this list, this is the one I would pick! As to what it is about? That’s just something you’ll have to discover on your own. I wouldn’t want to spoil the twists and turns this anime will take you on.
That’s the end of the list! Let me know what shows you plan to check out from my list, and of course, if you have a show you’d like to recommend folks please do! I’m looking forward to your responses in the comments. If you would like to support my writing please visit my donation page via the button below. Lastly, thank you for reading and I hope to see you around again soon!